I call the Minister of State to reply.
Finance (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2015: Second Stage (Resumed)
On behalf of the Minister for Finance, Deputy Noonan, I thank Deputies for their contributions and for their constructive engagement with the Bill. I look forward to a more detailed consideration of the provisions on Committee Stage. Before he left the Chamber, the Minister told me that he is looking forward to that engagement because many important points were made during the debate.
I would now like to wrap up this debate. As Members will appreciate, this Bill is mainly of a technical nature and is designed principally to facilitate the implementation of the EU financial services agenda. As Members are aware, the banking union has been probably the most high-profile EU legislative issue over recent years. It was seen as a necessary response to the financial crisis and its purpose is to put in place a more integrated and harmonised supervisory and resolution regime for the euro area banking sector.
At this stage, progress on the creation of a European banking union is at an advanced stage. The European Central Bank, ECB, took over its supervisory role in November last year and is working closely with national authorities ensuring that banks comply with EU banking legislation. This was an important first step on the road to a banking union as centralised supervision should ensure a high level of independence and objectivity and will help to rebuild trust and confidence in the European banking sector. It is very important that trust and confidence in the European banking sector are rebuilt.
The next step was to ensure that if a bank gets into trouble there are appropriate tools and powers to manage the failure in an orderly manner. In this regard, it was agreed that a Single Resolution Mechanism, SRM, would be established for this purpose. This should ensure an effective European response where a bank finds itself in serious difficulties. However, as the Minister noted, for the Single Resolution Mechanism to be operationalised, it is necessary to ratify the intergovernmental agreement to the Single Resolution Mechanism and lodge the necessary documentation with the EU by 30 November. The importance of completing this process on time cannot be underestimated.
Members made a number of points during the debate which the Minister will deal with on Committee Stage. The rationale behind the main amendment to the Financial Services (Deposit Guarantee Scheme) Act 2009 seems to me to be clear and straightforward. Its purpose is to ensure the scheme continues to have access to a reasonable level of resources as we move from the old regime to the new rules under Directive 2014/49/EU, which is being transposed. This is important from a confidence perspective as while the likelihood of the fund being used is quite small, it does provide an important reassurance to depositors that deposit guarantee scheme funding is available if needed, as has been demonstrated in the cases of IBRC and Berehaven Credit Union. That was commented on by several Deputies in the debate.
The Minister made clear why we need to legislate for the insurance continuation provisions, in that in their absence there would be no regulatory regime for insurance undertakings outside the scope of the Solvency II directive. I believe there will be an appreciation in this House that with the difficulties we have had with insurance companies, this legislation is essential to protect the position of policyholders. That was mentioned by many Deputies during the debate and it will be dealt with in detail on Committee Stage.
The amendment to the National Treasury Management Agency (Amendment) Act 2014 is a technical amendment to remove any potential ambiguity from existing legislation, and from a substance perspective, therefore, it is not designed to change the underlying intention behind the original provision.
As the Minister indicated at the outset, he will introduce an amendment on Committee Stage that will add an additional Part to this Bill. This will be a minor, but important, amendment that will alter section 851A of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997 which contains provisions relating to the Revenue Commissioners' treatment of confidential taxpayer information. Its purpose is to allow Revenue to disclose confidential taxpayer information to the Law Society of Ireland in certain limited circumstances and, where a tax adviser or agent is a solicitor, to ensure equal treatment across the broad range of tax advisers. I hope that when we discuss this proposal on Committee Stage, the House will be able to approve it.
I hope there will be an opportunity to discuss the other matters raised by Deputies as the Bill continues its progress through the House.